Every Christmas for the last few years I've been inspired to re-arrange a carol or two for solo piano. It's a creative challenge to take something well-known and make it my own. It also gives me a chance to dig deeper into the text and see how it might come alive through sound. It's a bit of theological exploration through music that first emerges through improvisation.
This year I found myself drawn over and over to Away in a Manger (to the tune MUELLER) as well as Shirley Erena Murray's sobering adaptation, Away and In Danger. It's never been a favorite carol because it feels it feels too sweet a melody for a baby who has 'no crib for bed.' But when I started adding odd meters and let some new harmonic relationships grow out of the melody, it started to feel like something I could pray more authentically. It felt tender, unsettled, and mysterious.
It's a scratch recording made on my iPhone (and a few notes on the piano are out of tune) so definitely not perfect, but it feels worth sharing. I also have a playlist of other arrangements and improvisations you're welcome to enjoy as we come to the end of Christmastide.
Merry Christmas (it's the 9th day!) and Happy New Year!